If your clutch is grinding, sticking, or your gears aren’t shifting properly, it might be time to replace it.
Most clutches are rated for about 60,000-100,000 miles of usage. For most drivers, that means you’ll get about 5 years out of a single clutch – and you’ll need an average of one clutch replacement over the lifetime of your vehicle.
If that time has come, the average cost of replacing a clutch is about $1200. This includes a range of $500-$2,500 depending on the make and model. Here, parts normally cost $300-$1000. However, you’ll also have to expect to pay for about 5 hours of your mechanic’s time, which normally costs anywhere from $250 to over $1000.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of clutch replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
Estimated Clutch Replacement Costs*
Replacing a clutch is a large expense. In most cases, you can expect to pay $500+ for the part and around that for the labor.
If you have an automatic transmission, you’ll normally pay $800+ for the labor. On average, you’re looking at $1200 for the total job.
However, the cost of replacing a clutch depends on a lot of factors. For example, your car, its transmission, and how much parts cost for that make and model will have a large impact.
The following table includes cost estimates for 10 different vehicles.
|Vehicle||Clutch Cost||Labor Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (March 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
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Clutch Replacement Price Factors
The most influential cost factor in replacing a clutch is the cost of labor. That’s because you can expect a clutch to take anywhere from 3-6+ hours to replace.
For most mechanics, that’s at least $300-$600. In addition, clutches are not cheap.
And, if you have to replace the master cylinder and the slave ring with the clutch, the parts will cost an additional $300-$500 more than quoted.
Factors that impact the cost of your clutch replacement include:
On a national basis, mechanics charge anywhere from $15-$205 per hour. You can expect a national average of $60 for a small mechanic’s shop. On the other hand, if you go for a larger chain, rates usually start at $94.99 and go up from there.
If you’re paying for 6 hours of your mechanic’s time, that means you’re looking at $360-$1,230 in labor alone.
If the job ends up taking more time, which it can, you’ll have to pay more. And, considering the length of the job, some mechanics will just set aside the whole day for it and charge you accordingly.
In addition, you’ll normally pay a shop fee as part of the job. Most mechanics use a rate of 5-20% of the total job.
This fee is intended to pay reception, electricity, etc., rather than just the mechanic’s hourly rate. And, if you’re paying for a big job, it can be considerable.
Cost of the Part/Type of Part
Clutches are not cheap. In fact, the cheapest clutch assemblies usually come in at around $100 for a universal model from a budget brand.
In addition, manufacturers like Ford and Toyota tend to have the cheapest parts, with clutches usually averaging about $180. If you go for Honda or Mini Cooper, you can expect that to go to $300-$600 as a starting range for the part.
Of course, clutches are complex and made of multiple metal gears that have to work perfectly together. They aren’t cheap to build and buying a lower quality one can damage your engine if things don’t work out.
Here, you can try to save money by opting for remanufactured or secondhand clutches.
A remanufactured part is a secondhand part that has been rebuilt to meet the manufacturer’s original specifications. These are usually about half to a third of the cost of the same part new. However, not all mechanics will work with them.
Additionally, you might be able to simply buy secondhand from a junkyard or a garage. However, considering the labor in taking an old clutch out, this is highly unlikely to be something you want to do.
Finally, if you buy OEM from the dealer, you can expect your clutch to cost in the highest range listed on the chart above.
Clutches often fail alongside much of the rest of the transmission. You might have to replace or refinish the flywheel, the master cylinder, or the slave cylinder.
It’s also often necessary to replace seals and gaskets, but these normally cost a few dollars each, so it’s very unlikely you’d notice as part of the total job.
However, a flywheel can cost $100-$500, a master cylinder $100-$200, and a slave cylinder around $100. That can greatly add to the total cost of the job.
In addition, if you want to have your flywheel resurfaced, that’s another $40-$100 depending on your mechanic’s hourly rate.
So, not only is it important to know that costs might go up if more things turn out to be wrong, but it’s also important to assess what’s included in a quote from your mechanic.
E.g., if they’re charging $300 more but are assuming the master and slave cylinder have to be replaced and are resurfacing the flywheel, it might actually be a better deal.
6 Symptoms of a Bad Clutch
If your clutch is going out, you’ll likely hear and notice symptoms. Often, those symptoms can also give you a rough idea of what’s going wrong, which can give you a better way to scope eventual costs.
E.g., if you just have to replace a single ring, it’s going to be cheaper than replacing the full clutch, but not by much.
1. Clutch slipping
If your clutch is slipping, you’ll normally notice it in changes in the engine. E.g, the engine runs faster or slower despite you not having done anything.
Here, you’ll start noticing when driving uphill or if you load your car down. As the clutch worsens, you’ll notice issues when you speed up or slow down.
Eventually, if your clutch completely fails, it won’t do anything at all and your car won’t move. In almost every case, you’ll notice the gears slipping from one to the other much sooner than a complete failure.
And, if that happens, timely maintenance can reduce the cost of maintenance by minimizing damage to the assembly.
2. Soft or stiff clutch pedal
If the clutch pedal is very soft or very stiff, it usually means there’s an issue with the pressure plate. That often means the clutch assembly itself is having issues.
For example, a stiff clutch pedal is one of the first signs of a faulty master cylinder. If you catch the issue then before the faulty cylinder causes more damage, you could get away with replacing just that part.
However, at any point when you have soft or stiff pedals, you should get them checked.
Most modern pedals use hydraulics. This means you might also want to check the hydraulic fluid. However, getting a full inspection of the clutch is always a good idea.
3. Shifting gears is difficult
If you have a manual transmission and it’s difficult to shift gears, the clutch may be the issue.
If you have an automatic transmission and the vehicle struggles to shift or there’s a delay in shifts, the clutch is a likely culprit.
4. The clutch makes noises
If your clutch is grinding, clicking, rattling, or making any other noise when you engage it, it’s having issues.
Ideally, your clutch should not be audible from the cabin. If it is, you should take it in for a diagnostic checkup as quickly as possible.
5. Higher clutch
Clutches ride higher as they age. Modern vehicles automatically adjust for this using hydraulics.
However, if your clutch is riding high enough that the hydraulics no longer offset it, it’s time for a replacement.
6. Clutch pedal is on the floor
If your clutch pedal is on the floor, the clutch plate, throw-out bearing, or the hydraulic system have issues. That might mean you can get away with topping up the hydraulic fluid.
However, it could mean the entire clutch has to be replaced. Either way, it’s crucial to have it checked and fixed ASAP.
How to Replace a Clutch (22 Steps)
If you want to replace a clutch yourself, it’s important to note that this is a complicated job. Here, the largest complicating factor is that you’ll have to drop the transmission.
And, if you’re like most home mechanics and don’t have a lift, you’ll be dropping the transmission without a lift.
Normally, that will necessitate using jacks and blocks to support the transmission and ensuring you can actually get the transmission back into the car. That’s important because your transmission can weigh up to 400 lbs.
If you don’t drop it onto an assembly that can jack it back up into place, chances are, you’re not getting it back into the car.
Things You’ll Need:
- Jack + jack stands
- Wrench set
- Lug wrench
- Tie rod separator
- Drain pan
- Penetrating fluid (optional)
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable towels
- Clutch alignment tool
- Pry bar
Replacing the Clutch
It’s important to start the job with basic safety precautions. That means parking your car on a flat and level space.
You’ll also want to chock the back wheels. Turning off the car and taking the key out of the ignition is also a good step.
Finally, many people prefer to unhook the battery from the negative post to ensure that nothing short-circuits while they are working with the vehicle.
- Loosen the lugs on the front wheels. Then jack up the front of the car and stabilize it with jack stands.
- Take the wheels off.
- Drain the gearbox oil from the drive shaft.
- Take the wheels fully off by removing the bolts and the axle nut.
- Unbolt the wheels from the drift shaft, use a tie-rod puller or a wrench and hammer to remove the CV shaft and move it out of the way.
- Pull the drive shaft out of the way.
- Then repeat this process on the other side.
- From under the car, take out the bolts on the clutch slave cylinder. You may want to use penetrating fluid on these bolts about 1-24 hours in advance of doing the work. Move the slave cylinder out of the way. If you have a newer system, this will be attached to the clutch.
- Unbolt the starter from the transmission.
- Unbolt all the bolts holding the transmission to the engine. You’ll have to access the top and bottom of the engine for this.
- Slide a jack under the transmission and hold it in place.
- Then, use a pry bar or a large screwdriver to pry the transmission off the engine. Try to go slowly so the transmission lowers onto the jack.
- Unbolt the clutch plate from the engine. Normally this has 6 bolts. You’ll also normally have to pry the plate off.
- Grease the spline gear in the engine.
- Then, fit the new clutch on. It should snap on. Make sure you have the throw rod bolt.
- Use your clutch alignment tool (these come with any clutch kit) to slide the clutch and rods in. Then tighten all the bolts in.
- Jack the transmission back up into place and wiggle it onto the clutch. This can be time-consuming. Be careful that you don’t let the transmission fall. Once it fits on, your clutch is replaced.
- Bolt the transmission back into place.
- Replace the drive shafts.
- Re-bolt on the CV shafts.
- Then, put the wheels back on.
- Make sure you refill the gearbox oil. You may need a low-pressure pump to do the work.
Here, the hardest part of the work is manipulating the transmission back into place. On average, you should expect the job to take all day.
In addition, for some vehicles, you’ll have to re-align the front end after removing the CV shafts. You can have your mechanic do this.
If you still have questions about replacing your clutch, these answers should help.
How long does a new clutch last?
Clutches usually last anywhere from 50,000-150,000 miles.
The rougher your driving conditions, the faster the clutch will wear down. On average you can expect at least 5 years out of a new clutch.
Can a clutch fail suddenly?
It’s incredibly unlikely that a clutch can fail suddenly.
However, it is possible that something suddenly went wrong. Or, that you missed warning signs that the clutch was slipping or the gears were going bad.
Does holding a clutch down damage it?
Holding the clutch down can cause unnecessary wear and tear on the gears. It can also put stress on the cylinders. It can also cause added wear to the throw out bearing.
However, it’s unlikely that normally holding the clutch to coast would cause any real damage. You’re much better off just putting your vehicle in neutral and disengaging the clutch that way.
Can you drive with a bad clutch?
That depends on how bad the clutch is. If your clutch is completely locked up, your vehicle won’t move.
Additionally, a bad clutch could damage other parts of the engine like the transmission. You’ll also damage the flywheel.
So, driving with a bad clutch can increase the cost of your eventual repairs.
Replacing a clutch is a big job and it will cost a great deal. Clutches are expensive parts and the time needed to remove the transmission can be considerable. Therefore, you can expect to pay around $1500 for most clutch replacements.
If you do the work yourself, you can do it for the cost of the clutch and 5-8 hours of your time. However, you should make sure that you have the tools to safely put your transmission back into place.
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